Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Since being in the program, I know that I haven't been totally present in a couple of relationships. One has been with my wife, who I love but have also pulled away from in recent years. I think it's mainly been to protect myself and make myself less vulnerable. Sometimes my body has been present and my mind hasn't been. Sometimes my mind has been present but my body has shut down.

I think that at the time I entered Al-Anon, I needed time out in the relationship. Maybe it was appropriate and healthy to shut down at that time. As my recovery has taken steps forward, I've focused on the things that I want to do. I've not shut my self off in the relationship anymore, but I'm not as available or present as I once was.

And in a friendship that I've written about on here, I've basically let it go. After making my amends, I pulled away and have heard nothing from the person. It's as if the friendship didn't exist. I think that I was unavailable to the friendship during the time when I started in the program. I was no longer present or the same person as I was before.

And then there is my avoidance of a meeting where I originally started in Al-Anon. I began in Al-Anon there but found that over time, the dominance of one person made me uncomfortable. So I decided to attend other meetings and effectively closed myself off from that group.

And now I'm wondering whether these were all healthy choices or part of some kind of withholding and relationship sabotaging on my part. By withholding and departing, the other person can do nothing in the relationship when we are gone.

So I'm pondering what I accomplished by backing away. Was it because I needed some time to get my own head together? Did I need time to heal? To sort things out? Or was I using some old adaptive behaviors from my past in which I hid, ran or let go of relationships because I was afraid that there was no other way to take care of myself? Dog eat dog, run or be killed, hide or be found.

Today, I believe that in my marriage I have become a different person. I am no longer just there because of another but am working on a life that includes things that I want to do. In many ways, it's a much better relationship than before. Not as confining, not as predictable, not as filled with anxiety. It's as if I have become my own person and not an extension of another.

In the friendship, I withdrew because I couldn't foresee that there was anything left on which to base a friendship. My repeated attempts to call or contact the person were largely ignored. So during the amends, I saw that the other person had decided to shut down and no longer wanted to be available. I accept and respect that decision.

In the case of the dominant "leader" of the meeting, I sense that the other person is controlling and manipulative. I don't get a feeling of warmth and love. I don't get a feeling that the person "walks the walk". The amends born of my resentment to her is one that I need to make. And then I can move on.

Withholding can be a double edged sword. It can excise those people that may be harmful but it can also sever relationships that we didn't intend to remove. Handle with care. It cuts both ways.


  1. Wow I so appreciate how you can look at yourself and begin processing some of your reactions to relationships and your part in it. It seems like growth can get so tiresome but the consequences to avoiding this is too risky. It takes a lot of courage to look at oneself. I still am learning this, I will keep trying and getting motivated by others such as yourself.

  2. well i don't think you can have your cake AND eat it. meaning sometimes the healthiest thing to do is stay as far away from people as possible. or be VERY careful about who you spend time with. seasons ebb and flow. sometimes lots of people is good, sometimes we just need time alone. Im more of an introvert by nature. an I rather than E type. see:


    and so i love recharging batteries by time alone. nothing wrong with that. Monks and nuns try think of time alone as a HUGE luxury, so it is held in very high esteem. so don't just see it as 'severing' or isolating. there is good and bad in everything. and in the end you have to do what works for YOU, regardless !! of what everyone else thinks. to thine own self be true and all that. so just do what works and accept the compromises that accompany those choices, as all choice limit us in some way.as long as you continue to question yourself in this way, you have a better chance of spotting dodgy reasoning. Its very healthy to do so in my opinion. Nothing is certain, so it becomes a habit to question everything really. All sounds very healthy to me basically...
    right i have to go off and study!! !!!

  3. Great insight and I so can relate on a number of levels because I do the same exact thing. I tend to withdraw and though I tell myself it was the best thing to do at the time, I often wonder if perhaps it is still that same old behavior. It can be confusing.

  4. i understand the double edged sword bit. at the same time, your actions AT THE TIME were the right ones. you CAN change your mind at any time, provided you are strong enough to handle it, if you wish, but it sounds pretty much like you needed that space and time then for your own good.

  5. As we continue in recovery we will have questions. And we will question ourselves. This seems to keep me grounded somewhat. And I used to worry about questioning the process, then my sponsor said if I was questioning then I was right where I needed to be. That I only needed to worry if I stopped those questions.

    I love that illustration. Is that from the Ramayana?


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.